Fantasy flight takes off for the North Pole

HORSHAM, Pa. - December 4, 2010

It's every kid's dream: a trip to the North Pole. And that dream came true for over 230 mentally and physically challenged children and their families at the Willow Grove Air Base.

That's where members of the Navy Reserve's Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 52 transported the kids on a fantasy flight to see Santa.

"We fly airplanes for a living, and we don't get to see this side of it. We don't get this enjoyment from people flying on our airplanes a lot, so I know my guys really love it," said Chief Jeff Bontrager.

Santa's home was set up in a hangar where dozens of volunteers helped as the kids, many of whom come from Make-A-Wish families, enjoyed a petting zoo, balloons, bouncies and trains. Six year old Tejas suffers from a weak muscle condition.

"It's such a great opportunity for us to be able to come out and have fun like this," said Vanaja Chigurupati.

5 and a half year old Jared has cerebral palsy and is legally blind.

"I had no idea what to expect, and I'm just really overwhelmed and surprised at how nice everybody is and how happy everybody is," said Chery Doan.

Because Navy operations are being transferred to New Jersey, this will be the last year for this event at Willow Grove. But organizers are hoping to continue the tradition once the squadron gets settled in at McGuire AFB.

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